Tuesday, August 08, 2006


The Spirit Of The Enlightenment Lives

Too depressed about the Middle East, too absorbed with Sam Harris’ The End Of Faith and too busy ferrying children here, there and everywhere while trying to work full-time (damn the school holidays) to do much blogging of late, but just thought I'd mention a jolly little encounter the other night, while I was visiting the lovely Isle of Arran with my dad.

It may be a little late in life for me to be learning such lessons (the trip was to make the arrangements for my 40th birthday — aargh!) but I have recently come to understand why it is that people say never to talk about religion or politics in the pub. Too many heated exchanges — usually with people who don't really believe anything much, but who cling on to what 'faith' they still have and defend it quite fiercely because… well, there has to be something else, don't you think? — have made me think, what's the point? People who are unfamiliar with the concepts of reason and rationality are unlikely to be coaxed over to my side of the fence just because a ranting Scots woman screeches at them for a couple of hours along a bar.

Okay, so if I'm honest the real reason is that there have been several occasions on which long-suffering friends and acquaintances, fed up with hearing me raving on about the same old stuff again and again, have rolled their eyes and told me to belt up. Either way, these days I find myself a little reticent about banging on too much about my pet subjects to complete strangers, and I now set off for nights out swearing blind that I'll stay off the subject.

Of course, that's all very well until you take into account the tongue-loosening effect of alcohol, and given that Saturday night's little soiree took place in an excellent pub which boasts the largest selection of malt whiskies in… Scotland? Britain? Europe? (I was too distracted by the Bruichladdich to care), I was entering dangerous territory. So it came as a welcome surprise to find that one of the locals was a kindred spirit, and we spent a very pleasant evening discussing faith schools, the rise of fundamentalism, the human rights act and lots of other stuff, while forming the London-Lochranza chapter of the Muriel Gray appreciation society.

It was my dad's comment the next day that made me laugh, though, as I was telling my mum about our evening, having already explained my new-found reticence.

"Aye, but he was singing from the same hymn sheet as us."

It's nice to know we're not alone.

(see, that works two ways...)
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